About the Site

Image courtesy of Jill Knutson Haukos
This site was created to help raise awareness about the importance and value of the plant family Poacea and the many grassland ecosystems around the world that are dependent on it.

It goes beyond the usual reverence for the grasses that have economic, cultural and religious significance to people, such as rice, maize/corn, wheat, barley, oats, sugarcane, and bamboo.

More specifically, the site will be a place where the focus is on studies and notes (biological, ecological, cultural, and personal) of this fascinating angiosperm family and the open ecosystems that it supports, as well as being an outlet for some of the photography that I do. 

(If you'd like to be notified about new posts to the site, please use the subscribe via email form on the right side, or email me at banyanwanderer (at) gmail.com).

Some might wonder why I chose to focus on these plants. Surely the Aroids are more wondrously weird and beautiful in leaf and form (and I am in fact, an Aroider too), and the Orchids boast a multitude of flowers and various evolutionary contrivances for pollination to explore. 

But the grasses include the major staple foods like rice, corn, and wheat, as well as other economically important groups like bamboo and sugarcane, and grasses dominate and influence vast areas of the world. Countless animals and plants depend on them as the foundation of their habitat, and so they are literally several orders of magnitude more important in the overall scheme of things, as I list here

In addition to their economic and ecological importance, I believe they have a more subtle and deeper beauty than just clothes of gaudy colors and large leaves, although I would not sell grasses short on their amazing colors and forms. Witness the violets of the inflorescence of Cenchrum below.

Or the large purple flowerheads of Muhlenbergia sericea below. 

I travel widely, and almost all of the images on this blog are taken by me (and have the website URL printed on them). I'll note copyright for those that are not.

One caveat that you should know is that I am not an agrostologist by training (one who studies grasses). My focus in graduate school was in plant molecular biology (and I am currently a Java programmer and software architect by trade), and so I am still learning to identify the specimens I see. Thus you'll have to forgive me if I make errors in identification. Saying that, I consider myself to be a scholar of this most interesting group of plants, and I continue to learn more about them everyday.

As an aside, Matt Candeias of the very popular podcast In Defense of Plants was kind enough to invite me for a chat about my favorite plant family, and it was a lot of fun. His podcast is without a doubt the best botanical podcast out there, and I have spent many a hike listening to it. If you have not heard it yet, check it out! And be sure to check out all the other episodes he has done. 

Episode 363 - Celebrating the Grasses

So, now I welcome you to learn about this most fascinating group of plants with me, and by learning about them help preserve the grasslands that are the home of countless plants and animals around the world.

Perhaps you too will come to appreciate their importance and beauty and consider yourself an OP (an Orang Poaceae or grassperson).


Equipment Addendum:

My camera is a Nikon D3400, and for macrophotography I use a Tokina AT-X pro lens. I had a Nikon wide angle lens for less than a month, and lost it in Peru.

My drone is a DJI Mini 2. It is the first drone I've had (bought it for only $399 in 2021) and is a freaking workhorse. It's hit things 2 times now (a wall and a tree), and has a broken that leg that I superglued, but it just keeps on ticking.

I love bamboos (and all other grasses!)


Anonymous said...

I am so happy that I've found your site! I was a city girl until I moved to a rural area, and had to teach myself a good deal of botany to identify the plants in my own yard. The grasses are fascinating, and I was delighted to find that on close examination, their flowers are extremely colorful. Right now I'm thinking of the tiny bluish flowers of timothy!

BanyanWanderer said...

I'm glad you discovered the wonders of botany ;-) I would suggest a macro lens if you have one. I could not be more pleased when I got it and started photographing grass inflorescence. It's like going into this new other world that we don't usually get to see. I now have a drone and will be doing high up shots from the other side of the coin, so to speak. Anyways, glad you're with us!

Anonymous said...

What a great site - I am a rangeland scientist in Australia and I really learn so much about different grasses and other parts of the world from all your posts. Great stuff. Peter

BanyanWanderer said...

Australia has some pretty awesome grasses too, and one day I hope to get to know some of them personally ;-)